The science of associating something with an activity is known as classical conditioning. There is an excellent experiment that was conducted by acclaimed scientist Pavlov that proves an excellent example. Whenever he served food to his dog, he used to ring a bell. In the beginning, the dog used to salivate by looking at the food. A little while later he started to associate the food with the bell and even further on down the track he used to salivate just by hearing the bell. This is not to say that the noise of the bell actually made him salivate. The dog associated the ringing of the bell with the food and that food or even the thought of it made him salivate.
If you have pets there is a good chance that you would like to train them to behave well and to become an integrated member of your family. As well as becoming loving family members, they can also be trained to perform some useful duties around the house, like collecting newspapers. You can even train them how to keep rabbits out of gardens and to ward off other household pests.
Classical conditioning cannot actually make the dog to sit or jump at the command, but it does change the way the pet feels about a particular situation in which it is right now. It gives explanation about the behavior relating to a particular place, object or event. It gives explanation to the developed emotional response. The responses can be developed in the animal either wontedly or by chance. Also the trainer must remember that the change in the behavior is irreversible most of the times.
One of the most common behaviors dealt with in conditioned emotional response is fear. Fear can be a learned emotion, or it can be instinctive. For example, if a cat gets scared upon seeing a dog, this is instinctive fear. If the cat backs off upon seeing a raised hand, this is learned fear. This can happen in the case of an abused cat. If there is fear because of lack of exposure to a particular situation before, this is known as fear of unknown.
The conditioned emotional responses, which are dislikeable, can be reduced with the help of classical conditioning. Classical conditioning further has two concepts namely desensitization and counter-conditioning. Desensitization is reducing the sensitivity of the animal towards a particular unavoidable situation. The bad situation is repeated over and over until the animal is no longer sensitive to it. For example, if the animal is given crate training, it is locked inside the crate again and again, till he gets used to staying locked inside the cage.
In counter-conditioning the animal is exposed to a lower degree of extremity. The intensity is less and as well a positive thing is presented to the animal. The pet will begin to like the distasteful situation by doing this. The pet is made to respond in such a way, which contradicts the current or previous reaction. For example, a pet doesnt like to be locked up in the crate all the time. But this undesirable situation can be made to look pleasant if the pet is fed with a treat from time to time as long as it stays calmly inside the cage.
Negative counter conditioning is another technique, but it is used very rarely. For example, if the cat likes to bite the hand of the owner very frequently, the person can rub something distasteful on the hand. If you repeat the process, by building up the association of biting a hand with the taste of a foul substance you can train the animal not to bite the hand again.